That’s a Strange Way to Tell Me You Love Me…

Link to a today’s strip.

Um. Okay.

If you really break down what Crazy is saying here, it seems to imply that when he was sixteen he was attracted to an eleven year-old-child he assumed was a boy.

No Boku No Pac-Man, please…

Unfortunate implications aside, all we have here is a restatement of the week’s plot. The only thing of note is that the Sunday colorist managed to depict a redhead character correctly for once.

March of last year Tom let us know this arc was incoming, when he posted the book cover that inspired his Eliminator helmet, and said this:

I saw this book on a spinner rack at the Captain EZ Confectionery a few blocks from our first apartment. Couldn’t resist the cover. Picked it up and later “borrowed” the Hunter helmet for a character I’d just created in Funky called the Eliminator. Said helmet, coinkadinkily enough, will show-up in a Funky story arc next year.

Cover Me 143
posted on MARCH 20, 2021
“Hunter” – Art by Paul Neary and written by Rich Margopoulos, Budd Lewis and Bill DuBay. Six parts in total, appearing in issues #52-57. Set in a near-future world devastated by nuclear war, it features Damien Hunter, a half man/half demon who seeks to destroy all the demons on Earth, including his father Oephal. As a half-breed consumed by self-loathing, Hunter frequently moralized on racial issues in contemporary America.

I want to thank Banana Jr. 6000, none, Charles, Mela, as well as others for providing some background on the arcade game Defender. I didn’t grow up with video games, only picking up the habit during college, so the context was great. I hunted up a few short YouTube vids that cover the development and just how unique and challenging the game is.

Today is the last day of my shift. It has been a real treat celebrating 50 years of Funky Winkerbean by going back in time to see what a 25-year-old Tom Batiuk was capable of. Thanks everyone who enjoyed it with me!

But what did I really think of the first four years of Funky Winkerbean?

It was alright.

Not usually laugh out loud funny, certainly capable of being bad, but amusing enough. Certainly not out of place squeezed between Hagar the Horrible and Wizard of Id.

But I easily found strips where the seeds of what would grow into Batiuk’s thorniest issues were germinating.

Preachy Nihilism.
Recycled Jokes
Observational Non-Humor
Vaguely offensive portrayals of women
I mean women WANT to be sexy and hate not being sexy and hate other women for being sexy amirite?
Dinkle writing AWFUL puns.
Worshiping Les. (Okay, this one is actually funny.)

And, as I’ve said before, I think we’re sometimes too hard on modern Batiuk during those occasions when he dips his toes back into gag-a-day humor. It might not be as good as his best was back then. But his best now is as good as his average was.

So sue me, I liked this one.

There were a couple strips I stumbled across that made me cringe or shudder, knowing where the strip would eventually go.

Baby Wally was born fearing death.
Alcoholism runs in Funky’s family.
Les hopes his future wife will make him money…
Uhh…
Uhhh…..

But despite all that, there were strips that had me genuinely laughing out loud. So here they are, my favorite strips from the first few years of Funky Winkerbean.

Act I Crazy Harry is my spirit animal.
I have literally done this.

So that’s it for me this round! The esteemed SpacemanSpiff85 will be taking over the ship tomorrow, asking the hard hitting questions.

Like, when is the strip ending? Will Wally Jr. ever return? Will Mindy and Mopey ever marry? Will Summer ever graduate Kent State? We’ve reached 50 years and we’re still chugging along. Maybe someday, we’ll know, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be this year.

Comic Book Harriet, signing off.

35 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

35 responses to “That’s a Strange Way to Tell Me You Love Me…

  1. billytheskink

    Since we’ve already played the “stand in line” reference (I got it!), standing ovation for CBH.

    While the Klinghorns are up in the attic, maybe they’ll find Tyler and Little Abbey in addition to that dang Eliminator helmet. I would say they might find Maddie up there too, but I guess they already found her in the basement.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Thanks BTS, I had no idea what their names were. Crazy Harry’s missing kids just might be the most obscure characters in the entire strip. Tyler and Little Abbey? Is there a Big Abbey, or even a just plain Abbey? Was the genesis of that name ever explained, or is that expecting way too much? So that was 2007, have they appeared at all since then?

      • billytheskink

        To my knowledge, that strip is the only time Tyler or Little Abbey ever appeared. Maybe I missed their appearance in a photo in the background of a Klinghorn house scene or a post office scene, but I’m doubting it.

        They appeared even less in Act III than sparsely appearing high school basketball star “Big Mac”… but more than some of the Act II high school students TB had John Byrne age up in concept art (Chien, Monroe, Matt Mills, Sadie Summers, Pete’s sister Ally).

        • Epicus Doomus

          I do remember Sadie from Act I (?), I think. I remember Chien and Monroe too, albeit just barely. Matt Mills and Ally, not at all. I also remember there being a women’s basketball coach way before Fishstick Annie, and I remember the other comic book store crew (Kevin, maybe?). Man, FW is just littered with obscure forgotten characters from back when Batiuk was way more ambitious than he is now.

          • billytheskink

            Sadie (Mercedes) was Cindy’s younger sister, introduced as a complete clone of Cindy before becoming the one with the pixie cut in the Greek Chorus of Mid-Act II Montoni’s waitresses (along with Lefty, Lisa, and Rachel).

            Chien had the misfortune of going to prom with Pete. Monroe was Wally’s high school BFF. Matt Mills was a Scapegoat football star (such as one can be) who bullied Pete and Durwood and later gave Susan Smith a black eye. Ally didn’t do much other than edit the school paper and occasionally commiserate with Pete about how their parents were divorced.

            None of these characters appeared a single time in Act III to my knowledge.

            Sally Kearns was the pre-Bull/Fishstick girl’s basketball coach though I’m not sure she ever appeared in more than a strip or two. Kevin, of course, had a few appearances before disappearing in the mid-2010s because TB closed the post office and Crazy gave DSH someone to talk to at work.

            And there are more of these characters floating around. It is not uncommon for comic strips to shed characters without explanation from their early days after finding out which ones don’t work, but Funky Winkerbean has a body count that is something else…

  2. Epicus Doomus

    “It’s my old video game helmet I wore back when I was pretending to be a boy!”…nice exposition there, BatYam. Does he think we’ll forget the plot if he doesn’t take the time to remind us, or does he think there are people who only read the Sunday strip, or what? Check out that haphazardly-taped box in panel two, the one thing that’s remained wholly consistent in FW over all these years. These people really, REALLY, struggle with tape. I guess it’s like with Pennsylvanians driving too slow or New Jerseyans with the profanity or Staten Islanders and Camaros, it’s just an inherent regional trait.

  3. none

    First of all, holy god a Boku no Pico reference. You really went there? lol man and here I was thinking that having Banana reference Chris-chan a few times was fringe enough in these parts.

    Second, thanks again for the completely thorough history lessons through the week. In total, it gives a concise overview of how the strip managed to find its mooring early on and provide some context of how wretched things would become. Putting those Bull strips next to each other is harrowing.

    Third, how awful is today’s strip? So bad that this is probably the closest we’re ever going to get for why Donna felt the need to disguise herself – and that reason is because she equated humans fighting demons to women fighting men, and really liked the character design to a comic book which featured the former battle. Without having any evidence to the contrary, we are only left to assume that this perceived battle was entirely in her head. The alternate text panel is the only logical way to read the full implications behind her words and actions, and it’s an exceptionally negative portrayal of Donna.

    Meanwhile, helmets don’t alter a person’s voice! Nobody heard a woman’s voice when she spoke throughout those twenty years? Not once? Fuck off with that.

    Lastly, thank you for the acknowledgment. I didn’t even say as much as others, but I hope that my comments were constructive to the general topic.

    • Hitorque

      It’s funny because a few years back I got permananned from the Curmudgeon’s site for being too lewd or obscene or whatever in my commentary and I wasn’t ever in the same universe as dropping a Boku no Pico reference…

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I want to be very clear. I only know Boku no Pico by reputation. I haven’t seen it, nor should anyone see it. Referencing Boku no Pico is like referencing Hitler, or Salo, or A Serbian Movie. It is a meme, yes. But a meme sprung from horror, disgust and righteous indignation.

        LOL. Thanks for getting my extremely obscure reference. You guys are GREAT.

  4. Y. Knott

    Batiuk wasn’t ever gonna get his work to the level of Peanuts or Doonesbury, his very obvious influences. But once upon a time home computers were completely unknown; gasoline cost 60 cents a gallon; “Disco Duck” was a #1 record; and Tom Batiuk was at least adequate (with gusts to actually good) at the daily comic strip format.

    Things have changed a *lot* in 50 years.

    • Epicus Doomus

      It really WAS good, at a time when the funny page wasn’t yet filled with all sorts of irreverence. That came a little later, so in that respect Batiuk really was something of a trailblazer. And it’s funny, because he wants to be best remembered as being a totally different kind of trailblazer. He’s the rare artist who wants everyone to forget his best work.

  5. William Thompson

    I have four things to say about that eleven/sixteen year-old love bit:

    1: Ick.

    2: Ick. As Kryten said, I know I just mentioned that, but I thought it was important enough to repeat.

    3: Maybe Batiuk was playing to that trope of “You recognize your first love right way and eventually get married.” Or “Harry and Donna have always been young at heart as well as at brain, so there you go.”

    4: Ick. I’m sure Kryten would approve of everyone repeating that repeatedly.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Wait a minute…Westview’s video game champion The Eliminator was a girl? But, but, girls can’t play video games! That’s not true! That’s impossible!!!

    Looking forward to when Crazy Harry and Donna tell this story yet again to a random stranger they meet at Montoni’s in 2027, during the strip’s 55th anniversary celebration.

    And kudos, CBH, for a collection of deep dives that would have had Lloyd Bridges’ lungs aching for air.

  7. Hitorque

    1. Hell, I could have told y’all all about Defender… Why is my video gaming expertise never called upon?

    2. So was she just good at Defender and nothing else? What about the sequel? Did she even try other games? Presumably after getting their asses whipped in Defender her opponents instantly challenged her to a different game? And does she have anything tangible to show for her victories besides bragging rights over her loser classmates?

    2. So I’m to believe Harold couldn’t tell she was a lady even in tight motorcycle leathers? And what kind of voice is she even talking with?

    3. Donna, it’s goddamned 2022… It’s perfectly okay these days to publicly admit this bullshit had nothing to do with an arcade game and you’re gender fluid or non-binary or whatever the term is… Hell, Batiuk might even get a Pulitzer out of it!

    • Hitorque

      4. I must logically assume that Donna secretly dressing up as a man and doing man things in her spare time continued well into her adult life, right? That isn’t a habit you just drop after doing it for such a long time, trust me…

      • Hitorque

        5. In that flashback with the motorcycle gear on, Donna is clearly as tall as Harold, but today in the attic she looks like a munchkin who might come up to Harold’s waist…

  8. Banana Jr. 6000

    Funky Winkerbean just loves talking in circles about itself. “I wore a helmet and called myself ‘the Eliminator’ to disguise the fact I was a girl. When I beat the boys at Defenders. Because I was a girl. That’s why I wore the helmet. There was a picture of me as the Eliminator. Here’s the helmet that I wore when I played Defenders and called myself the Eliminator.” It’s just the same three points over and over again. Next week, Donna will tell us that this is the helmet she wore when she played Defender and called herself the eliminator.

    How Donna won the heart of someone who thought she was a boy really needs more explanation, but we’ll never get it.

    • Green Luthor

      I wonder what John Darling, who was murdered, might think about all of this…

      • William Thompson

        We could ask the daughter of John Darling, if she ever shows up again. Her father John Darling might have said something before he was murdered.

  9. sorialpromise

    The avatar used by ComicBookHarriet, where have I seen it before? For some reason, it has been bugging me all week. Like it is right in front of my face! I have eliminated most of the possibilities. I have to dig through the attic of my mind.

  10. erdmann

    “Young pro Barry Allen…”
    Even then he just couldn’t resist the Silver Age Flash references, could he?

  11. be ware of eve hill

    Aw Harriet, I hate to see your blogger stint come to an end. While it is obviously a labor of love, the effort required to research and write up each blog must be exhausting. You put forth more care and effort into Funky Winkerbean in two weeks than Batty does in an entire year.

    I hope the readers in other discussions have read your blog and discovered that Funky Winkerbean hasn’t always been a bewildering mishmash of forgotten characters and confusing references.
    Batty: I wasn’t always bad, I just turned out that way.

    Batty reminds me of a few tenured professors I had in college. These profs had their names listed as the instructor but we students never saw them. A Grad Assistant always gave the lectures and handed out the tests.

    ================

    I see you posted shorter videos today. 😊
    I confess to watching the ‘Half in the Bag” video you posted yesterday all the way through. Numerous times, I thought to myself, “I have things to do. I’ll give it five more minutes.” I never did stop and was surprised to discover the video was over an hour long. I wouldn’t have watched the video all the way through if I wasn’t enjoying it. Surprising to discover there are movies rated lower than Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

    I’ve seen my share of bad movies. Back in the late 1980s, I once let my husband choose the movies all by himself. He rented Psychos in Love and The Wormeaters. The movies were so horrible that I remember them to this day. A truly dreadful double feature.

    ==================

    I look forward to SpacemanSpiff85’s stint over the next two weeks but await the “gifts” bestowed by Batty with great apprehension.

    More of ‘The Eliminator’? Say it ain’t so.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Glad you liked RLM. They are one of my favorite YouTube channels. I don’t always agree with their movie assessments, but I love their sense of humor. And they delve into some REALLY obscure stuff.

  12. be ware of eve hill

    Batty reminds me of a few tenured professors I had in college. These profs had their names listed as the instructor but we students never saw them. A Grad Assistant always gave the lectures and handed out the tests.

    I meant to imply that Batty is coasting on past accomplishments and is putting very little effort into the comic strip nowadays, much like those professors.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That’s a great analogy. Every tenured professor I had in college took the attitude of “you can’t fire me, so I have a license to be arrogant, useless, and use the classroom as a forum for my personal vendettas.”

  13. Sourbelly

    This week was pointless even by FW standards. Thanks, CBH, for the scholarly diversions. Amazing as always.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And thanks to CBH and the forum for indulging my rambling about Defender. I have so many memories of it, and it deserves a much greater place in the classic arcade pantheon than it has. Oh, and I see TB drew the cabinet again today.

  14. Suicide Squirrel

    Perhaps Westview High had “clunky” band uniforms that made it difficult for half the people in the stands to tell if a band member was a boy or girl. My school didn’t have that problem. Our band uniforms hugged curves quite well.

    On the other hand, our cheerleaders wore knee-length navy blue socks and those ugly Lucy Van Pelt shoes.

    One of the reasons I stayed in the band instead of joining the football team was because that’s where the girls were. Another reason was that I was only 5’8″ and 135 lbs.

    • Suicide Squirrel

      5’8″ and 135 lbs, and slow.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        LOL, you were the exact size of my little brother, and that didn’t stop my brother from paying defensive back. But I went to a pretty small school.

        • Suicide Squirrel

          I did play football my senior year instead of the marching band. A third-team outside linebacker and special teams fodder. Kind of embarrassing for a senior.

          We were horrible. We had no weightlifting program and the smallest student enrollment in the conference. During my years in high school, our football team won two games and tied two others (2-36-2), We even had difficulty kicking extra points.

          On the other hand, the band placed well in band contests, even winning an excellent certification.